Harry Maguire once represented an unlikely potential solution to what had been Manchester United’s vulnerable defence. A club that had previously recruited some of Europe’s leading defenders – Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic formed one of the Premier League’s finest ever central defensive partnerships – instead targeted an individual who first established himself in League One.
It was at Sheffield United where Maguire started playing regular first-team football, and it was former Manchester United captain Steve Bruce who was responsible for first taking him into the Premier League in 2014, when he spent £1.5m signing the then 21-year-old from Hull. Relegation back to the Championship was followed by an immediate promotion and a further relegation, but in that time Maguire sufficiently impressed Leicester, who paid £17m to make him the focal point of their defence.
Maguire’s subsequent rise might have surprised some observers, but it has been built on an ability to respond to every challenge he has faced; he adapted to Hull, then to Leicester, and then most significantly with England as they reached the semi finals of the 2018 World Cup. That United coach Mike Phelan worked with him at Hull will have contributed to his move to Old Trafford, but he has already made so promising a start there that he has since been appointed captain.